New Bedford Votes Lopes Out, Other City Councilors Stay
NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford City Council President Joe Lopes is out, according to unofficial election results released this evening.
As the Election Day dust settles, Ryan Pereira — who edged out the longtime Ward 6 councilor Lopes by just 157 votes — is one of two new faces New Bedford residents will be seeing on their city council.
The other is Shane Burgo, who will be taking the open councilor-at-large seat left by longtime councilor Debora Coelho.
Coelho is retiring at the end of this term.
“I don't have any words to describe the emotions that I feel,” said Pereira of the win.
Five councilor-at-large seats and six ward seats were up for grabs today in an election that saw just 10.8% of registered voters in the city turn out to cast their ballots.
Incumbent councilors kept nine out of the 11 spots.
All four incumbent councilors-at-large running managed to hold onto their seats, with Ian Abreu, Naomi Carney, Brian Gomes, and Linda Morad returning to the table.
Abreu earned the most votes with 3,830, followed by Gomes with 3,123, Morad with 2,884, Carney with 2,714, and newcomer Burgo with 2,364.
Incumbent councilors Brad Markey and Scott Lima will remain in Wards 1 and 5, respectively, after Markey eked out a win over challenger Leo Choquette Jr. by just 44 votes.
All three wards in which the incumbents ran unopposed kept their seats, including beleaguered Ward 3 City Councilor Hugh Dunn, who is facing criminal charges for drunk driving.
Dunn earned 82% of the votes in his ward, despite rumors of a resident-led write-in campaign for previous Ward 3 councilor Henry Bousquet.
Meanwhile Maria Giesta will keep her Ward 2 seat, as will Derek Baptiste in Ward 4.
Current School Committee vice chair Colleen Dawicki will be joined on the committee by newcomers Melissa Costa and Ross Grace Jr.
And incumbent Kimberly Saunders will remain on the Board of Assessors after defeating challenger Erik Andrade with 61% of the vote.
New Bedford Election Commissioner Manny DeBrito noted that the last municipal election saw a higher voter turnout of 13.8% despite weather he described as “horrible.”
It is unclear if this year’s election turnout represents a record low.